UN-HABITAT this week reached out to some of the remotest corners of the Pacific by bringing Small Island States of the Pacific Region some of the latest techniques and tools available to help raise the standards of local government service delivery.
As part of an on-going partnership between UN-HABITAT and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, local governments gathered for a special two-week training programme 4-15 June. In the first week, the programme will present to local government financial managers in the Fijian islands new ways of strengthening their financial foundations. The second week-long workshop for representatives from Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, and Tonga, will look into instructing trainers on local government financial systems.
UN-HABITAT said in a statement that the status of financial management in Fijian local authorities is very similar to their counterparts internationally. On the one hand, they suffer from inadequate revenue streams which are primarily based upon historical legacies that do not meet modern day demands. And what resources they do have are often managed in an ad hoc manner. Therefore, a more strategic and transparent approach is clearly required.
“While local government financial management reform is a long-term process, experience has shown that a useful starting point is to strengthen the systems of budget execution and expenditure management, including such areas such as accounting, cash management, control and underlying procedural and institutional arrangements,” the statement said.
Opening the workshops, Local Government Secretary, Mr. Cam Tuiloma cited an urgent need for training and reform on financial management across the Pacific region, especially considering the high rate of urbanization. While the Pacific may not be the largest region of the world, the challenges are no less daunting.
“The judicious management of our towns and cities is crucial, and town clerks and finance managers must lead the way,” Mr. Tuiloma said. “This programme is a unique opportunity for Fiji and the region. From this training we expect to raise the standards of service delivery in local governments so that they may enable economic, social, and cultural development in our towns and cities”.
The training programme is based upon UN-HABITAT’s Financial Management for Local Government Series, which was recently published by Earthscan. It is the first internationally relevant training tool kit on the subject and the concepts of good governance including transparency, accountability, and efficiency have been weaved into the series.
While it is an invaluable reference manual, its primary use is as a tool kit to help in the development of local and national training programmes. The series has been packaged in four volumes – Creating A Financial Framework, Managing The Operating Budget, Managing Capital Investments, and Managing Performance.